The summer of 2021 was the season of success for three Graceland University men’s volleyball alumni. Pono Yin ’09, Donan Cruz ’06 and Corey Phelps ’95 were all hired as head coaches for three different distinguished university volleyball programs.
In June, Phelps was promoted to head coach of the Minnesota State University, Mankato women’s volleyball program after serving as the assistant coach in 2019 and the program’s interim head coach for the last year and a half. Phelps attended Graceland from 1991-1995 and played on the men’s volleyball team where he served as the team captain and earned all-conference honors as an outside hitter.
Later that same month, Cruz was hired by Ball State University as the head coach of the men’s volleyball program. Cruz previously worked for Grand View University as the head men’s volleyball coach earning national coach of the year four times and led GVU to two national titles (‘18,’21). While at Graceland, Cruz was an outside hitter and defensive specialist on the men’s volleyball team. In 2006, Cruz graduated with a degree in marketing communications and stayed on to serve as the women’s volleyball recruiting coordinator.
Just a few months later in August, Yin was named the head coach of the Lees-McRae College men’s volleyball program. From 2004-2009 Yin competed on the Graceland men’s volleyball team and earned his bachelor’s degree in Psychology. In 2016, Yin returned to Graceland as the assistant men’s and women’s volleyball coach before continuing his career at Drake University an NCAA Division I school in Des Moines, IA.
Corey Phelps ’95
When asked about how his Graceland University experience influences his coaching style today Phelps said,
I’ve been coaching at the college level for almost 25 years, back when I was at Graceland there wasn’t a lot of talk about team culture but the culture that we had is what I talk about now. We were committed to the team because we loved the game and wanted to play it as often as possible so that we could compete with the best. As a coach, I talk to my team about that mindset every year. It doesn’t matter what your background is, the fact that you’re here means something and if we do what we can to make each other better we know we can create a championship team.
The Graceland University men’s volleyball program has created a legacy of excellence and continue to share their expertise and passion in leadership roles across the country. If you would like to follow Graceland’s volleyball program this season, check out gujackets.com for more information.